Title: For the Nights I can't Remember
Notes: I would just like to mention all the artists and songs that I have used to help me create this story.
Barbie Girl – Aqua, That’s not my name- Ting Tings, Whatya want from me- Adam Lambert, Give me everything- Ne-yo, Thanks for the memories- Fall out boy, Think again- Minor Threat, Thank you- Dido, 867 Jenny- Tommy totone, For the nights I can’t remember- Hedley,
Good to you- Mariana’s trench, Have I got a present for you-Stephan Colbert, Come on get higher- Matt nathonson, I’m yours – Jason Mraz, Stitch by stitch- Javier colon,Call him- Flame
It was just a typical day at work for Jonathan. He was sitting at the front desk overlooking all the people searching through CD cases. He couldn’t wait to get home, kick off his shoes and listen to his own music. The top 100 on the radio was starting to drive him crazy. He pushed his shaggy brown hair out of his eyes and focused his attention on another teenage boy dressed in all black searching through the heavy metal section. Jonathan was sure he knew the boy from school but maybe not. Suddenly, the door chimed. Jonathon looked over just as a girl walked in and turned the corner into the top hits music aisle.
Jonathon immediately assumed she was like all the other girls who entered the store. The giggly girls in their short skirts looking for music to blast out of daddy’s convertible. He returned his attention back to the metal section teen but for some reason his eyes kept scanning back to the new girl. He couldn’t figure out what it
was about this girl that kept drawing his attention. He finally gave up fighting it and decided to get a good look at the girl. She was the typical blonde girl but instead of a skirt she was wearing track pants and she no make-up on. Also instead of the pin-straight hair, hers was piled on top of her head. Jonathan shook his head, grabbed his Ipod, and turned the music up loud.
Elizabeth scanned the CDs looking for something for Tiffany’s party. She grabbed a CD off the shelf and scanned the songs. She didn’t recognize any of the songs. Justin Beiber? Fefe Dobson? Lady Gaga? She had no idea who any of these people were, but was hoping that these were the songs everyone was listening to. Anxious to get out of the store, she headed towards the counter. Sitting there was a boy about her age with dark hair rocking out to his iPod. She coughed in hopes to get the boys attention. When that didn’t work she reached over and tapped the boys shoulder.
“Hiya Barbie” the boy said.
In frustration, she let out on of her infamous rants. “That’s not my name; they call me girl, they call me Stacey, they call me her. They call me Jane. That’s not my name.”
She was so sick of everyone judging her, thinking she was just a normal Beverly Hills, wannabe actress bimbo. She wasn’t. She was different and she wanted people to know that.
Taken aback from her sudden outburst, he gently replied, “Hey, slow it down whataya want from me?”
She looked at the CD in her hand and threw it on the counter. He looked down at the CD and back at her. The look on his face confirmed that he thought she was just like everyone else. She felt a twang of hurt inside and couldn’t figure out why. What did she care if some low life music store guy thought she was a top 40 singing airhead like Tiffany? Maybe she was like Tiffany. They were best friends after all. As she was standing there, a vision popped into her head. She was standing there but slowly she morphed into Tiffany. She blinked away the vision, reminding herself that they were nothing alike. In fact, they were complete opposites.
“Think again before you take another crack and slap yourself on the back,” she said. She was fed up with people assuming things about her. She was going to let this guy know exactly what she thought.
The conversation went on for a while, what started out as anger quickly faded away and the conversation turned light-hearted. Talking was so natural for them; it was like they had known each other for years as opposed to just minutes. They got so lost into their conversation that they didn’t notice the line that forming behind them until someone yelled at them, bringing them back into the present.
“I want to thank you for giving me the best day of my life,” she said grabbing the CD. As she walked out the door she couldn’t help but glancing back at him.
For the rest of the day, Jonathan was set on auto-pilot. He helped customers and stocked shelves but part of him was still focused on Elizabeth. He had to see her again but he had no way to contact her. He locked the door to the store and headed to his car. There was a piece of paper under his windshield wipers. Assuming it was a ticket, he started swearing. He threw his stuff in the backseat angrily and snatched the paper off the windshield. A smile grew across his face. It wasn’t a ticket. In fact, the only thing written on it was seven digits. 867-5309.
From that day on, the two of them were inseparable. When he wasn’t working, they were out roaming the town together. Everything seemed to be going perfectly. When she was around him she was able to be herself, which was something she hadn’t been able to do in a long time.
Elizabeth only moved to LA a year ago and since then she had been trying to be something she was not. She pretended to be like Tiffany. She wasn’t used to being mean and catty. She didn’t care how hot a guy was, she wasn’t that shallow. And she definitely wasn’t as promiscuous as she felt she had to be when Tiffany was around. She hated having to be someone else so that she would fit in. However, now that she was with Jonathan she didn’t have to do that anymore. He liked her because of who she actually is instead of what she thought she had to be.
In just a few months they were able to learn so much about each other. Elizabeth liked cookie dough ice cream whereas Jonathan preferred classic vanilla. His favourite movie was Star Wars while she enjoyed Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.. They both learned their favourite colours were green, and when they stared into each others’ eyes that’s what they saw.
However, everything changed one night when Jonathan went out with his buddies. He had become the beer pong champion, or so his friends told him in the morning. He remembered getting to his friend’s house and when he opened his first beer declaring, “I might drink a little more than I should tonight, ‘cause we might not get tomorrow!”
His friends all cheered and they chugged some down. They sat down and chatted and that is when the rest of the night got hazy. When he woke up, he grabbed his phone to text Elizabeth when he noticed he already had a message. He opened it up and it was from an unknown number. All it said was, One more night, and one more time. Thanks for the memories.
He went to talk to Elizabeth that morning. He was debating telling her. On one hand, he wanted to be on honest with her but he was afraid of how she would react. He didn’t want to lose the love of his life over something he didn’t even remember. He wasn’t even sure what happened and he was too scared to ask his buddies. He didn’t want to know.
As he was walking up her walkway, he was still unsure of how he was going to handle this. However, it didn’t matter. The rumours had already spread to Elizabeth. She opened the door with mascara running down her face and a cardboard box in his hands. Without saying a word, she shoved the box at and slammed the door in his face. He looked down. All of his things were inside the box. The sweater she loved so much, the numerous CDs they had listened to in her car together and sheet music he had written and left with her. It was supposed to be their song. He threw the box in the backseat of the car and drove away. He couldn’t believe it was over. As he raced home, he was thankful he didn’t wear mascara.
For the next week, Elizabeth distanced herself from everyone. She tried to escape everything she had heard but no matter where she looked she was reminded of everything. Whenever she went online someone was still talking about it. It was all that seemed to be showing up on her News Feed. And her cell wouldn’t stop ringing between the text messages and the missed calls.
She couldn’t talk to him. Not after what he did. Between all the rumours floating around the story seemed to range from they just kissed to they went all the way on the couch. She didn’t know what to believe anymore but either way something happened and that hurt. She had listened to the sadness and sorrow in his voice as he begged for her forgiveness but those voicemails always got deleted. She was in love and now she was heartbroken and alone. She curled into bed and cried herself to sleep as the sad songs kept blasting through the speakers.
When she woke up that morning, she shuffled her way downstairs, poured herself a bowl of lucky charms and grabbed the milk. She went to pour the milk into the bowl when only a few drops dripped out of the container. Yelling at her little brother, who was still sleeping upstairs, she grabbed the car keys off the counter and headed out to the store.
The first thing she noticed when she opened the front door was how bright it was. She hadn’t been outside in a week and her eyes were no longer adjusted to the sun’s brightness. The second thing she noticed was there was something on her front porch. When she picked it up she noticed it was a CD in the shape of a heart. She went back upstairs she put the CD her stereo. She recognized the piano and the unique voice and realized quickly it was Hedley filling her ears. When she looked down at the case she saw there was a note. It said, For the nights I can’t remember.
Jonathan knew there had to be a way for Elizabeth to listen to him. She wasn’t returning any of messages and she wouldn’t pick up the phone. It suddenly occurred to him he had to do something special.
He was watching TV with his sister. It was some singing show that he wasn’t really into but it was better than the normal stuff his sister watched. Besides, his sister could tell he was upset so she kept making cracks that any minute Christina Aguilera was going to fall out of her shirt on national television. She was trying and that was what was important to him. Now only if Elizabeth could see he was trying too.
He had found out what happened but he had no way to tell her. At some point of the night, a girl named Emily, had tried to kiss him. She caught him completely off-guard and didn’t get a chance to stop her. Luckily, his friend had walked into the room immediately and the girl. That was all that happened. He had to tell Elizabeth.
As he was sitting there trying to come up with something creative, one of the singers caught his attention. The words of the song hit him and he instantly knew what he had to do. Music was such a big part of their relationship – heck, they even met in a music store. Music was the key to their survival.
The next day, another heart-shaped CD showed up on her door. This one labelled, What hurts the most. The following day there was another one sitting there.She popped it into the CD and Good to you drifted to her ears.
For the next two weeks, a heart shaped CD showed up on her front porch. Elizabeth listened to every single one of them. She listened to all types of genres loving each song more with every time she listened to it. She started rummaging through the CDs looking for one in particular. Written notes flashed by:
- I miss the still of your silence as you breathe out and I breathe in -
- this is our fate, I’m yours –
- I will be strong, I will be faithful, ‘cause I’m counting on a new beginning. A reason for living. A deeper meaning -
Finally, she found the one she was looking for. This was the most recent CD and it was slightly different. I heard this on The Voice while I was watching it with Haley. I need you, without you I am broken. Put me back together now, Stitch by Stitch?
Just then, her mom knocked on her bedroom door. “I have a present for you,” she said handing her yet another CD. “Call him, I know it’s hard to let go.” With that walked back out.
She stared at the CD. This one was different.
There was no note, just a blank heart-shaped CD. She took it out of the case and once again put it into her stereo. At first, she thought it was empty. There was just static filling the room, she felt as if the silence was suffocating her. Finally, his voice filled the air. She recognized the words right away. They were the same words he had given her weeks ago. It was their song he had said, but then it was just a piece of
paper and some words.
She grabbed her purse and ran down the stairs. She ran past her mom sayingquickly she had to talk to Jonathan and grabbed the keys. She opened the door and ran straight into something hard. She looked up and there was Jonathan.
He went to speak but she cut him off. “I do wanna love you, and I do wanna try because if falling for you boy is crazy, then I’m going out of my mind.”
Title: A Matter of Time
Warnings: nothing really...? points of view could be confusing.
Notes: tried not to use too much dialogue. it's pretty short for me. & it's not at all what i had originally started writing for the challenge. neither is the picture that i was going to use other than that it came out decent...-ish...
She waits. She is always waiting, waiting for something that is far beyond her reach. She is sitting on the swing chair watching time pass her by. In front of her is lake and beyond it a road. She can hear them, the cars as they pass by not bothering to slow down.
She sighs leaning the side of her head against the swing. She watches the willow trees swaying against the wind. Her eyes slowly pass over her bag, laying besides her. She closes her eyes and tries to ignore that it's there reminding her that she hasn't gone home. It is autumn, the day is beginning to become shorter and colder than summer. She's watching as the sun sets, excruciatingly slow.
She doesn't know for how long she's been just watching its light fading but her eyelids feel heavy and she is starting to feel sleepy. And as she falls asleep no cars pass by and the wind has stopped rustling the tree leaves.
Everything has come to a full stop around her.
It's dark already and he's glad to finally be home. He just wants to sleep. He goes to turn on the back porch light, when he does he sees the form of a person walking towards the lake's edge. At first he thinks that maybe he's just seeing things but the figure gets dangerously close to the dock's edge. If he lets them stay his father will be angry that he has let a stranger swim in the lake so late. He goes outside to tell them to go home.
"Hey!" he shouts out.
As he gets closer and as the person turns he sees that the figure is a girl. He knows her, they go to school together. She comes to the lake often and just sits and watches; he's never known what she's looking at though. When she turns it seems slow, excruciatingly slow. He watches as she slips, and as she is falling there is no noises, not even the wind in the trees.
Everything has come to a full stop, except for him.
When she wakes up, the sun has set and there is no moon. And still she does not go home. Her house is a mile away from the lake, not far but frightening in the dark. She has never seen the lake at night, and decides to do that. The dock is close by and she can see it better from there.
As she nears the water she notices that the house near the lake has turned on their light. She ignores it and hopes that whoever turned on the light will ignore her to. She is nearing the dock and she is at the edge of it when someone calls out to her.
She turns around to look at who it is. But she isn't able to for long because her foot slips at the edge of the dock. She hadn't realized that she'd gotten so close to the edge already. She is falling and everything almost seems to go in slow motion from her slipping, to her falling. She sees the boy as she falls into the water running towards her and she recognizes him. He goes to school with her and his father is the sheriff.
The water is cold, freezing, as she hits it. It pulls her in and she can't fight it. She goes up gasping, trying to get air but all she breathes in is water. She is panicking because she doesn't know how to swim, and blames herself for being able to learn. Her feet and arms have already started to feel like lead. And she can't move them anymore.
As her eyes close she sees that the water is disrupted by someone, jumping into it. And she hopes that maybe they are going to pull her out.
He doesn't think as he runs to the dock and jumps into the lake after the girl. As soon as he hits the water he sees her. He sees as her eyes close and she moves her mouth as if trying to say something. He grabs her arm and pull her up, her head above the water. He places her over his shoulder as he climbs up the dock ladder. He lays her down on it, she isn't breathing. He is glad that his father made him take CPR classes his freshman year because he finds himself having to use them.
He doesn't know how long it takes but she begins to cough violently. He helps her turn over so that she is throwing up the water easier. She stops coughing gradually and tries to breathe normally. She's crying and he doesn't know what to do for that except tell her that she's fine.
"T-thank you," she gasps out.
He is embarrassed because he realizes that he has just saved someones life. He doesn't know what to say so he doesn't say anything. He looks away, turning his head to the side, to his house. He helps her up and leads her to his house. Once inside he gives her one of his t-shirts and shorts to change into. She goes into his bathroom to change. He hurries to his room to change out of his cold wet clothing. He puts on a old loose wife beater and sweats before going into the living room.
The girl comes out of the bathroom shivering and he feels bad that he doesn't have anything warmer that will for her. The t-shirt that she's wearing is still too big for her and the old pair of shorts are loose. He blushes as soon as he realizes that he's been checking her out since she's come into the living room.
"Er, do you need use the phone?"
"Yes, thank you."
He hands her the phone and goes into the kitchen to grab something to drink. When he comes back she is sitting on the couch. He hands her a water bottle and a blanket. He doesn't know for how long they both watch the TV before falling asleep. They are both tired and it's late.
In the morning he'll wake up, on the couch still, and she'll be curled next to him trying to keep warm. He'll blush when he thinks that she looks good in his clothes and that he likes the way that she unconsciously gets closer to him. He'll fall back to sleep, even though the couch is uncomfortable. And later she will think that she hasn't felt warmer.
And just for a moment their time comes to a full stop.
Title: Proving the Existence of Ducks
There were places in the world that Sam really didn’t like.
School was a good start. Bathrooms were an excellent continuation. And hospitals definitely could not be left out of the list.
So when Sam’s mother announced that they were going to visit some distant relative in what Sam could only think of as the old folks home, (“Retirement residence, dear. Call it a residence,” her mother would consistently tell her. But her great-aunt twice removed, or some relation she could never remember, was not in college and did not deserve to be living anywhere called a residence.) she didn’t think she’d like it there either.
She wasn’t sure. But she knew she didn’t want to go.
The rebellion against one’s parents never goes as planned when you’re still in high school and have to depend on someone else for basic needs like food and shelter. It didn’t help that she was related to the provider either.
Sam had to immediately rearrange the mental picture in her head. Far from her home, the neighbourhood was posh and bright with white stone and painted concrete. The old folks home was a chameleon amongst the sprawling houses and lawns set up along the street, which was not a street but a drive.
“Did we really need to bring all these things?” Sam asked her mom, juggling the handmade crocheted shoulder throw with the pictures of her and her mom in frames stuck with shells and buttons and ribbon, pushing the container of baked squares further up under her arm. Her mom liked to make things by hand but she liked Sam to carry them.
“Of course. What’s wrong with them?”
Sam didn’t want to say it, but she really didn’t think these things belonged in any place with a fountain in the front drive and roses that could have come from Alice in Wonderland sitting pretty under every window. Normal roses did not look like that.
“Nothing.” Her mother hummed in her throat and pushed Sam toward the big wooden doors.
The front hall was populated with couches and reclining chairs and a TV bigger than the one sitting in Sam’s living room. There were shelves of books and miniature tables here and there that folded out into built-in game boards. Caught up in the objects she was familiar with, Sam completely missed the people sitting in small groups here and there.
Her mother pointed her towards one of them, sitting by herself behind a bench tiled with cards.
“Hello Aunt Marguerite!” Sam’s mom swooped down with her baggy sleeved sweater and pecked each cheek with a kiss.
“Call me Mary. People have always said it was easier.” Aunt Mary’s voice was too soft for the way that she spoke, and Sam wondered what she used to sound like.
They sat with her there and talked about silly things like the weather and the plants and the view from Aunt Mary’s room. Sam got especially lost when Aunt Mary started asking about different people in the family. Sam wondered where all these mysterious relatives were because she was pretty sure she’d heard of only one of them.
Her mother tried to keep up, but occasionally had to gently remind her that some of these people were dead.
Sam didn’t like that. She thought her mother should just keep quiet and let her Aunt think everything was fine. It seemed that Aunt Mary knew what the world looked like right now, but there was something missing from her, like her past was sitting on the other side of a void and she could only see what shape it was, but not the details.
She didn’t say that though. Sam let her mom say what she wanted and let Aunt Mary be more and more crushed as she relearned how many people she’d outlived.
Eventually they made their way to Aunt Mary’s room. Sam’s mom had to push the wheelchair and told Sam to push the elevator buttons.
“Who normally does this?” Sam’s mom asked.
Aunt Mary raised a hand and Sam imagined her trying to wave the question off and not being able too because she couldn’t make the motion. “Different people.”
Walking into Aunt Mary’s room, Sam’s opinion changed yet again. The walls were stark and white and every bit of furniture had come directly from a hospital room.
She did not like this room.
“See, look out the window.” Aunt Mary was talking directly to Sam, the first time she’d even acknowledged her existence.
Sam went to the huge window with motorized blinds. Below stretched the back of the home, with perfect looking gardens and freshly painted benches. There was even a large gazebo sitting primly in the center.
“Do you see them?” she asked anxiously.
“What is she looking for Mary?”
“The ducks. They come sometimes.”
Looking at everything below, Sam was actually surprised that there wasn’t some stoic pond filled with waterfowl to finish off the picturesque scene of a home for the elderly.
“I don’t see any ducks. There’s a man sitting by some bushes, but no ducks.”
Aunt Mary sighed with more breath than emotion. “That’s Ben. He likes the ducks too. He’s waiting for them.”
Sam felt her mother’s eyes on her. She knew they’d be filled with pity and sympathy and Sam just didn’t think it was fair.
“We should head home soon,” her mother said, eyes still waiting for a reaction from Sam.
“Are you going to come back?” Aunt Mary asked quietly. Sam still didn’t want to turn away from the window, like it was somehow less painful to not see the expressions that put the feelings into a tangibly picture.
“We’ll come back,” her mother said. She placed a hand on Sam’s arm and gathered up everything to leave. The squares now sat in the cupboard of the small white and steel kitchenette, the pictures spread haphazardly on the plain wooden tables and the colourful throw sitting in a lump across Aunt Mary’s shoulders.
Sam really didn’t want to come back to this.
As she left she turned and saw her Aunt watching them with blank eyes. “I saw the ducks,” she mouthed but her Aunt didn’t seem to see.
There were certain smells that Sam really liked. Some were popular smells, like the inside of an old book or a freshly exposed permanent marker. Another common but taken for granted smell was a burger on the grill.
A week later her mother was bribing her with the saltiest fries, greasiest burger and most carbonated soda she could find to get in the car and carry the oddly shaped abstract painting she’d gotten from one of the overpopulated corners of the garage.
“It will brighten up the walls,” he mother said to Sam’s single raised eyebrow.
Aunt Mary wasn’t waiting for them this time, and Sam wondered if she was as awkward about them coming as Sam was about being there.
In her room, Aunt Mary lay half awake, the hospital bed allowing her to push a button and have her head and torso to an incline.
“It was today you were coming then. I’d forgotten.”
Sam was sure she was imagining that Aunt Mary’s skin was a little paler, a little frailer- that her voice was weaker not with sleep but with age.
“Yes, it was definitely today,” said her mother, brisk and forward as ever. “Sam, go help Aunt Mary sit up and get dressed.”
Leaning over her Aunt to undo what Sam could only think of as a hospital gown, she discovered another smell she thought was highly underrated: bar soap. It was somehow clean without being pretentious about it.
“I forgot too,” she whispered as she worked.
Aunt Mary was restless and wanted to go for a walk, which wasn’t really a walk for her, but someone pushing her wheelchair around out in the garden.
“We should see if the ducks are around,” her Aunt suggested.
“Okay,” her mother said slowly. “Tell us where the ducks are.”
Out in the back garden, her Aunt told them to go left.
“Down this walk way?”
“Yes, it’s that way, I remember going that way.”
Her mother pushed her around more roses, which looked as perfect as the week before, and through the gazebo to the other side.
“Keep going?” her mother asked, realising just like Sam that the pathway ended with a man on a bench and not with ducks.
“Yes,” her Aunt said stubbornly. “There are ducks that way.”
At the end of the smooth concrete path they stopped and her mother turned the wheelchair around.
“Are there any ducks today Ben?” Aunt Mary asked the man.
He sat there quietly, throwing pieces of bread onto the ground in front of him.
“No,” he said after some time.
“That’s too bad,” Sam’s mother said, and she wheeled her back to the gazebo to sit in the shade.
The week after that went much the same. Sam’s mother forced her into going, this time with more screaming than seemed really necessary for something Sam wasn’t fighting that hard to avoid.
The ride there was silent and her mother’s greeting was overly cheerful.
“Hi Aunt Mary! How was your week? I heard you gave the kitchen staff a hard time about the food.” Aunt Mary didn’t like the food there. Everybody and their dog knew it. Sam didn’t blame her.
“It wasn’t good,” she mumbled. “How’s your mother dear?”
The thing about Sam’s grandmother is that she’d been dead since before Sam was born. The thing about Aunt Mary was she never could remember who was alive and who was dead.
“She’s gone Aunt Mary. I told you last week, and the week before.” Her mother looked pained behind her smile.
“But I was talking to her two weeks ago.”
“No, unless you died and came back to life you couldn’t have.”
Aunt Mary’s chin dug further into her chest.
“Never mind,” her mother said, “I brought a board game for us all to play.” She dug a wooden box out of her bottomless purse and started setting it up. There were pegs and dice and Sam thought it looked a bit too complicated for her, let alone her Aunt Mary. Then she felt guilty and tried to tell herself it was something her mom would think.
Her mother’s phone rang and she went to go answer it in the hall outside. Sam nervously looked out the window to avoid Aunt Mary trying to talk to her.
“Aunt Mary?” her mother called as she came back in. “I have to go pick up something for work, but Samantha is going to stay here with you and play the game, okay?”
Sam turned around quickly, glaring at her mother to tell her how much she didn’t want to stay here on her own.
Aunt Mary had to get Sam’s mother to repeat it twice more before she understood, but once she did she said, “I’d like that,” and Sam was stuck.
After her mother was gone, Sam sat across from where her mother had pushed Aunt Mary and looked curiously down at the game. She could feel Aunt Mary’s eyes on her, watching as she feebly put the pegs into their holes. She imagined herself as one of the pegs, going where she was pushed.
“Do you know how to play?” she finally asked.
“Neither do I.” Biting her lip, she tried to think of what else to do. “Do you want to go for a walk?”
Aunt Mary brightened up quickly. “I do.”
Sam pushed the wheelchair down the hall and into the elevator. Down in the front room she automatically headed for the back doors, and outside she turned left once she was past the gazebo.
“Are you looking for ducks too?”
Sam didn’t realise it until now, but she was in fact hoping there would be ducks waddling across the concrete path or hiding in the rose bushes. The more her mother doubted Aunt Mary the more she wanted them to be real.
“Yes. I want to see the ducks.”
Approaching the bench, they could both see there were no little creatures, water born or not. Ben was there though, staring out across the garden.
“Any ducks today Ben?”
“When’s the last time you saw them?” Sam asked, afraid he’d think she didn’t believe him.
“It’s been a long time now.” He sighed, and his unruly white hair fell in his face. “I used to want to be a duck you know. I like the water. But I’m afraid of it, see? So I couldn’t be a sailor. I told ‘em to throw me in the river when I died.” He laughed heartily and Sam shuffled her feet at how forward he was about his fear and his death.
“They’ll come back,” Aunt Mary said.
Sam spent the rest of the day talking with Ben and Aunt Mary, waiting for the ducks, which never came. When her mother came back and saw them out in the sun, she was not impressed.
“She can’t handle that much sun Sam, you know that!”
But Aunt Mary really liked the warmth and Sam couldn’t seem to deny her anything at this point.
“You’ll come back, right?” Aunt Mary asked like she did each time they left.
“We’ll come back next week Aunt Mary,” Sam assured her.
Sam’s mother glanced once at her and nodded agreement. “We’ll be back.”
Before Sam returned to the retirement home she decided to figure out what used to be there before.
Of course her only method of searching was the Internet, and all that told her was that the building had been built 50 years ago, specifically as a retirement residence, and that the only changes had been to upgrade to meet safety codes and to install the elevator system so residents in wheelchairs and walkers weren’t confined to the ground floor rooms.
“Has there ever been a pond in the garden?” she asked one of the gardeners before they walked into the house.
His tanned face squinted up at her and he answered with a blunt, “No.”
Sam’s mother began to walk again, but the man asked, “Why?”
“There’s talk of ducks. I want to know where they came from or went to or… whatever.” She gestured vaguely and hoped he’d get the idea.
“There’s a park. It used to connect to the back garden. But it got fenced in when the directors decided to remodel the back.”
“Is the park still there?”
“I think so. You’d have to go see it yourself. It’s that way.” He pointed to the left.
Sam thanked him and followed her mom up the walkway.
Before they went in, her mother stopped and gave her that look which could only mean she was going to say something she thought Sam should pay attention to and not fight her on.
“Sam. You know I love Aunt Mary. And it’s important we visit her because she doesn’t have anyone left to do that for her. And I thought it would be good for you because you’ve never been able to have a grandmother. But we can’t give in to her delusions. I know you may think it doesn’t matter at this point in her life, but- she needs to remember these things and fight the deterioration of her mind.”
Her mother was close to tears and Sam couldn’t decide if she sympathized or if she was too mad to realise what she was feeling.
“I think you’re wrong. I know sometimes Aunt Mary doesn’t know what she’s talking about, but that doesn’t mean everything is like that. And she isn’t my grandmother, or anything like that. She’s my friend.”
Her mother just looked at her, and she went back to looking at the ground. She was fairly sure the gardener could hear them and didn’t want to know what he was thinking.
It didn’t feel resolved to Sam, but she understood by now that sometimes things didn’t get fixed all at once.
“Did you want to go for another walk today?” Sam’s mother asked after they got themselves settled in Aunt Mary’s room.
Aunt Mary was definitely for that idea. She told Sam last time how she spent the majority of her twenties walking.
“I was thinking we could go somewhere different today,” her mother said.
In the front room they went to the front doors instead of the back and they had to sign a paper to say they were leaving and taking one of the residents with them.
As they went down the driveway, they waved to the gardener, who watched them pass without a smile or a wave. At the sidewalk they turned left.
There was a path, and Sam’s mother went slower with the wheelchair on the uneven footing.
“I remember now.”
“Yes. Go down there.” Aunt Mary lifted her finger to point at the path.
Soon they heard the sounds moving water and they came upon a bridge. Sam helped her mother with the wheelchair across the edge of the wood divide and they walked to the center.
“Look,” her mother said excitedly, like she’d been the one anticipating seeing something. “Ducks!”
Below them, a crowd of ducks milled around each other in the water, quacking up at their faces peering over the railing.
“We should tell Ben,” Sam said. “He’ll be so excited.”
They spent the rest of the day in the park, Sam’s mother making a grocery store run to get bread for the ducks and sandwiches for them.
While she was gone, Sam and Aunt Mary spoke.
“Do you actually talk to my grandmother, Aunt Mary?”
“Of course dear.”
“Can you tell her hi for me?”
Aunt Mary smiled, like she somehow knew what she’d been saying wasn’t possible.
“Do you know her well?”
“No, we’ve never met.”
“I’ll tell her anyways. She talks about your mom a lot.”
Sam smiled and gave Aunt Mary a gentle hug around the brightly coloured crocheted throw.
There were places in this world that Sam really didn’t like. There was one place though where she could always go when she needed to be assured that there were ducks left in the world. Along the banks of the river she and Aunt Mary had found a swinging bench that the ducks could crowd around. Ben and Sam could sit, with Aunt Mary to the side, and they could all throw bread at the open yellow mouths. She came as often as she could and stayed even when she no longer had a reason to visit the retirement residence anymore.
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